NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday left for Samarkand in Uzbekistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of State Summit. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the summit will be an opportunity to discuss prospects for future cooperation.
"PM @narendramodi emplanes for Samarkand, Uzbekistan to attend the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Summit will be an opportunity to review the activities of SCO and discuss prospects for future cooperation," he said in a tweet. The Summit is set to take place in the historical city of Samarkand from September 15-16, the first such in-person Summit after the Covid pandemic hit the world.
The last SCO Heads of State Summit was held in June 2019 in Bishkek. India will assume the rotational annual presidency of the SCO at the end of the Samarkand Summit. PM Modi is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the SCO summit. He is also expected to have some other bilateral meetings. Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi are also expected to attend the summit. Uzbekistan is the current chair of SCO 2022.
The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six "Dialogue Partners" (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey). The Shanghai Five, formed in 1996, became the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan. With India and Pakistan entering the grouping in 2017 and the decision to admit Tehran as a full member in 2021, SCO became one of the largest multilateral organisations, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the global GDP and 40 per cent of the world's population.